A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Skillforce's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Skillforce is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
CEO Ben Slade
Prince William Award pupils
learn how to work as a team
SkillForce is a leading UK charity specialising in character
education in schools across the country. Supported by
its royal patron, Prince William, the charity encourages
students to develop strength of character and helps to prepare
them for later life. Linked closely with the armed forces, their
team of instructors is predominantly constituted by ex-forces
personnel. They offer the Prince William Award or the shorter
SkillForce Prince’s Award to students in partner schools around
the UK. CEO Ben Slade joined the charity in 2014 and explains its
foundational ethos and how they hope to expand across the UK.
At the core of our offering is teaching our students the fundamental aspects of
good character, how to develop confidence, resilience and self-belief and how to
cope when life doesn’t go their way. We believe that promoting positive mental
health and helping young people to feel comfortable in their own skin is vital to
their future success at school, at home and in life.
Based in Nottinghamshire, we are a national independent charity since our divestment
from the Crown in 2004. Our values are closely linked with those of the armed forces:
courage, respect, confidence, service and striving to be one’s best at all times. Our
focused programmes are delivered by a team of predominantly ex-forces personnel.
Having served their country, they have retrained to be “heroes in schools”, working
in partnership with teachers to transform lives, mainly through the charity’s flagship
Prince William Award. This is the only education programme of its kind and the
only one in his name. Our continued commitment to the armed forces has been
recognised this year with a gold award in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer
Recognition Scheme, an accolade usually bestowed on much larger companies.
»CEO: Ben Slade
»Founded in 2000, became a
charity in 2004
»Based in Nottinghamshire
»Services: National education
focusing on character and
resilience development
»No. of employees: 110
»No. of students: 10,000 in
Focusing on character and
resilience education
Children and young people are
increasingly connected and yet
emotionally disconnected. They are
growing up in a time of massive
technological advancement giving them
the ability to communicate in a way no
generation has been able to before.
There are, however, real challenges.
Social media can be harmful to young
people’s mental health and corrosive to
their wellbeing. All too often, it plays
on young people’s insecurities. These
young people are truly vulnerable,
and if something isn’t done to address
this, they have virtually no chance
of fulfilling their potential. Our royal
patron, Prince William, has said that
children face more pressure than ever
before and that social media effectively
means they are on call constantly.
We believe that the Prince William
Award should become part of the UK’s
education strategy. Good academic
results are, of course, important, but,
in Prince William’s words, “strength of
character – the confidence to stand up
and be counted and the ability to keep
going in the face of adversity are all
essential if young people are toflourish.”
The excellence of our armed
forces instructors
We believe in the power of the
Prince William Award and our shorter
character education course, the
SkillForce Prince’s Award, which helps
children to get to know themselves
and to root their experiences and
growth in the real world. The 36-week
Prince William Award is taught in
partnership with schools during term
time and delivered by our instructors.
We believe that our instructors are
central to this award, as they offer
the children an alternative role model
to be inspired by. Our instructors are
employed for their rich experiences in
their careers and lives. They understand
what it takes to work effectively as a
team, to respect and listen, to keep
going even when you so desperately
want to give up and ultimately to raise
yourself from the very depths of a
situation to a place of triumph. Through
weekly sessions based on practical
and classroom activities, pupils are
asked to reflect continuously on their
experiences and record those reflections
in a journal, tracking their development
and ultimately seeing how honing and
applying positive character attributes
can lead them to success.
The programme is working. We have
been independently assessed by
Chrysalis Research and, in just one year
of full delivery, our impact figuresshow:
»91 per cent of teachers said that
their students improved overall on
the Prince William Award
»80 per cent of teachers said that
their pupils had grown in confidence
»Almost 80 per cent of teachers said
that their pupils’ resilience had grown
and that teamwork skills wereup
»77 per cent of teachers reported that
pupils had improved their ability to
problem solve
»In maths, 37 per cent of pupils
improved their attainment levels
HRH Prince William
presents Molly Chandler
with a Graduate of the
Year award
In Prince
William’s words,
‘strength of
character – the
confidence to
stand up and be
counted and the
ability to keep
going in the
face of adversity
are all essential
if young people
are to flourish’
Highlighting best practice
»35 per cent of pupils improved their
reading levels
»34 per cent of pupils improved their
writing levels
Expanding across the UK
We still have a long way to go. Our
development priorities are led by our
vision to extend our reach to 20,000
pupils a year by 2020. I have been
leading the charity’s vision since my
appointment in 2016, supported by my
life and career experiences, particularly
in teaching. I am determined to push
for the charity’s ambition: to give every
child the opportunity to experience
life-enhancing character and resilience
I lead our 110-strong team across the
UK and have helped to turn the charity
around from a financial, educational,
cultural and strategic point of view.
This has taken great resilience and
tenacity and is a model of what we
can achieve when we put our collective
minds to the task.
We are delivering the awards to schools
right across the UK, with a small team
of business development managers
forging new partnerships and placing
instructors all the time. I have recently
appointed new additions to the
senior leadership team, including the
promotion of former Finance Director
Keedy Watson to Senior Director of
finance and corporate services and the
addition of three new directors. This
newly formed team signals our forward-
facing, strategic approach to growth.
Establishing the Prince William Award
as the leading character and resilience
education programme in the UK is not
without a myriad of challenges. We face
ever-stretched school budgets, and we
must continuously evidence our impact
to stakeholders and funding bodies in
an area that is notoriously difficult to
measure. Our future is one in which
we are reaching all pupils in all schools
across the UK. More sophisticated data
collection will play a big part in driving
the charity forward as we find new ways
of evidencing our success. Our people
are fundamental to our future, and we
strive to become an employer of choice,
attracting the best people and ensuring
the highest-quality programme delivery.
Our future is
one in which
we are
reaching all
pupils in all
schools across
the UK
Former Armed
Forces instructors are
complementary role

This article was sponsored by Skillforce. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister